By Lynsi Burton
The Skagit Valley Herald
MOUNT VERNON, Wash. — The ceremony began under the clear sun Friday morning, accompanied by a live bagpiper.
The sunshine showcased the gleaming finish on the guest of honor: a new fire engine.
The Mount Vernon Fire Department celebrated an ages-old tradition at Fire Station One on Second Street, inaugurating the new rig and putting it into service.
Fire Chief Roy Hari said the tradition began as the method of passing buckets across town to fight fires was replaced by hand-drawn rigs, then horse-drawn, then motorized ones. Fire crews were thankful for each advancement in technology and celebrated them.
The red and black 2012 Pierce “Velocity” Engine replaces a 1990 fire engine that the department sold to the Lake McMurray station for $15,000. The new truck bears a 450 horsepower diesel engine and a 1,500-gallon-per-minute water pump.
It was designed by Mount Vernon firefighters and includes advanced features such as wireless communications between all positions, dual band radio, mobile data terminal system, computer controlled foam injection system, LED emergency and scene lighting and independent front suspension.
It cost the city $488,558.
Hari started the ceremony with a speech and described the transfer of water from an old truck to the new truck that took place earlier in the morning. It symbolizes the continuity of protection.
Next, about 10 firefighters, with the help of Mayor Jill Boudreau, pushed the engine back into the station, a tradition that began with the first handdrawn rigs.
“It’s very beautiful,” Boudreau said of the new truck. “It’ll be very good for these guys to use.”
The siren wailed during the process, signifying to the community that it’s ready to serve.
David Leduc of the Snohomish County Firefighters Pipes and Drums played the bagpipe.
The station bell rang when emergency dispatchers at Skagit 911 officially entered the truck into service.
Finally, the Rev. Kevin Forquer of Salem Lutheran Church blessed the engine.
“I want to make sure when you guys go out in this vehicle, not only are you taking care of us, but someone out there is watching over you,” Forquer said.
Fire chiefs from throughout the county attended the inauguration, as well.
“It’s a very nice piece of equipment,” Burlington Fire Chief Lonnie Rash said. “It’ll serve them well.”
Hari said it was a “perfect morning” to celebrate the new engine.
“It’s half a million dollars of city money, so it should be a bit of a ceremony,” he said.
Copyright 2013 Skagit Valley Herald (Mount Vernon, WA)
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